Many people see the relationship between concierge-based practice models and standard insurance practice as an all-or-nothing, either-or dichotomy: you’re either a concierge practice or you’re taking insurance.
That’s a mistaken assumption, according to a recent survey by the Concierge Medicine Research Collective & published in the Concierge Medicine Today e-newsletter. The data suggest that the vast majority of concierge practices are also taking insurance, offering patients two options.
CMT, which tracks a wide range of issues related to concierge and direct-pay practice, says that 80% of the survey’s respondents say they’re still taking insurance. CMT’s findings corroborate a report in CNN’s Money magazine, estimating that 75% of all concierge practices also take insurance.
In other words, concierge programs are offered in addition to, but not as a replacement for the standard insurance model. This runs somewhat counter to the dreams of many physicians and patients that wider embrace of membership practice models–and by all accounts the numbers continue to increase despite the recession—will eliminate the administrative burdens of insurance-based medicine.
Why are so many concierge doctors continuing to dance with the devil, so to speak? Because, according to CMT, many Americans depend on insurance coverage as primary means of paying for health care. They expect to be able to use their insurance, and most doctors are loathe to exclude patients who cannot or do not wish to pay membership fees for concierge-style care.
Hybrid models, it seems, are becoming the norm.